The Apple iPhone 6 and Galaxy Note 4 are two of the hottest smartphones available, but they each have their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Here are six ways the iPhone 6 outperforms the Galaxy Note 4.
Both the iPhone 6 and Note 4 are high-end, cutting-edge devices packed with valuable and unique features. They’re two of the best smartphones available today, which is why they’ve found homes in my pockets.
Neither device is perfect, though. When you use them alongside each other, their individual strengths and weaknesses quickly become apparent.
The following list details six things the iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus does that the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 can’t — or at least can’t do as well.
(Note: The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are nearly identical, with three exceptions. The iPhone 6 Plus is notably bigger, the iPhone 6 screen resolution is lower than the 6 Plus screen, and the iPhone 6 Plus has an optical image stabilization, or OIS, camera feature that the iPhone 6 lacks. Unless otherwise stated, the conclusions I make about iPhone 6 can also be applied to the iPhone 6 Plus.)
1) iPhone 6 and the Apple Ecosystem
Apple products are specifically designed to work together. With each new iPhone/iPad/Mac/whatever iteration, the integration grows stronger and more complex.
Apple builds its own computers and desktop software, and its mobile devices are specifically designed to integrate with those devices on an OS level. Samsung makes phones and PCs, but it doesn’t develop the Android, Windows or Chrome software that powers them. As such, Samsung’s Android integration with Windows PCs and Chromebooks doesn’t offer the same experience as Apple’s ecosystem.
For example, the iPhone 6 can be used to control your Apple TV, and you can share content on your phone via your TV display. The latest version of Mac OS X, Yosemite, lets you start writing a message on your phone and then pick it up on your computer, or vice versa, using “Handoffs.” You can use your Yosemite Mac to place a phone call via your iPhone’s cellular connection. You can activate your iPhone’s personal hotspot directly from your Mac so you don’t ever have to take your phone out of your pocket. The list goes on.
Galaxy Note 4 users can download a variety of different apps to do many of these same things on their Macs or PCs. For example, multiple apps available on Google Play let you control Apple TV or Google’s rival offerings, Chromecast and Nexus Player. It’s easy to find apps that let you mirror your Android screen on your TV. In general, though, the experience is far more scattered and disjoined than the Apple experience, because you have to use different apps with various interfaces.
If you’re not a Mac user, and you’re not invested in the Apple ecosystem, you may not care much about all of this integration. Apple products aren’t for everyone, and I’m not trying to imply that Apple’s ecosystem is superior to other options. The reality, however, is that this integration is one of Apple’s unique value propositions. If you’re an Apple customer, you’ll likely get unique value from the iPhone 6 that you won’t from any other smartphone.
2) iPhone 6, Touch ID and You
Both the iPhone 6 and Galaxy Note 4 have fingerprint readers built into their home buttons for authentication. On first glance, the two scanners look similar, though Apple’s is round and Samsung’s is an oval. They both sit at the base of their gadgets’ displays.
The similarities end there.
Apple’s Touch ID finger scanner is easier to use and works much better than Samsung’s rival offering. For example, you can use Apple’s Touch ID in any orientation; it works whether you touch it with an upright finger, a sideways digit or an upside-down thumb. Samsung’s Finger Scanner requires you to slowly swipe your finger from top to bottom or from bottom to top. It’s finicky. I usually have to swipe my finger multiple times to unlock my Note 4. Touch ID on the iPhone is much more reliable; I rarely have to touch it more than once to unlock my phone.
Apple’s mobile payment system, Apple Pay, has received a lot of attention since its launch last month, but the idea isn’t a new one, and the Galaxy Note 4 can also use a set of mobile apps to make NFC payments, including Google Wallet and PayPal. Like Apple Pay and Touch ID, you can use the Note 4’s fingerprint scanner to authorize mobile payments when you use PayPal. However, the Note 4 finger scanner often takes multiple swipes to work. That kind of ruins the experience, especially if there’s a long line of shoppers waiting as you repeatedly swipe your finger. Apple Pay is more seamless, due in large part to the effectiveness of Touch ID.
It’s not accurate to say that the iPhone 6 lets you do away with passwords for authentication and the Galaxy Note 4 doesn’t. The Touch ID experience is head and shoulders above the Galaxy Note 4 finger scanner, though, and it’s one of iPhone 6’s standout features, which makes the Galaxy Note’s scanner seem that much more disappointing. The Note 4’s scanner is so unreliable that I’ve mostly stopped using it. Touch ID, on the other hand, is probably my single favorite iPhone 6 feature. I use it constantly.
3) Apple iPhone 6 Size and Your Pocket
I seem to be in the minority these days, but I just can’t get used to “phablets.” In my opinion, the iPhone 6 is the perfect size for a phone. While the iPhone 6 Plus is apparently the more popular option, I appreciate the fact that Apple offers a smaller option for people who aren’t ready to embrace the phablet movement.
Of course, Samsung offers a plethora of different devices, in different shapes and sizes. In fact, Samsung offers far more options than Apple when it comes to smartphones. But if you want the best of what the Note 4 has to offer — the S Pen, the unparalleled multitasking features — it’s phablet or nothing.
The iPhone 6 packs just about all of the same features as its big brother, with the exception of an OIS camera feature in the Plus, so you really don’t sacrifice features if you opt for the smaller version. My number one complaint about the Note 4 is its size, and I’d more than welcome a “mini” Note 4.
The iPhone 6 comfortably fits in my pants pocket. The Note 4? Not so much.
4) Wider Array of Built-In Storage Options
If you want to buy the Galaxy Note 4 from a U.S. wireless carrier, it’s only available with 32GB of fixed storage. Of course, the Note has a microSD memory card slot that supports cards up to 128GB, according to Samsung. The iPhone offers more fixed storage options. Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are available with 16GB, 64GB and 128GB of fixed storage.
5) iPhone 6 Cost of Entry
You can get an iPhone 6 for $100 less than a Galaxy Note 4. Specifically, the iPhone 6 with 16GB of storage costs $200 with a new wireless service agreement, while the 32GB Galaxy Note 4 costs $300 with a new contract.
Comparing the iPhone 6 to the Galaxy Note 4 is kind of like comparing peaches to plums, though. It’s more fitting to compare the iPhone 6 Plus 16GB, which costs $300 with a contract, and the 32GB Galaxy Note 4, which comes with more storage for the same price.
Bottom line: If you don’t want to spend more than $200 on a new phone, the iPhone 6 is an option. The Note 4 is not.
6) Apple iPhone 6 is Golden
OK, so this last point is a bit of stretch, and I probably could have skipped it. Gold phones are all the rage these days, and though Samsung advertises a gold Note 4 — and a pink one — the only colors available via U.S. carriers are black and white.
I’m perfectly fine with that. I like my black (err, “space gray”) iPhone and my (frost) white Note 4. I also know that the average consumer cares more about the color of their phone than I will ever understand. Boring ol’ black and white options often don’t cut it.
As stated at the start of this post, I really like both the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy Note 4, and it wouldn’t be fair to only spotlight the good stuff about the iPhone 6. So, on the flip side, here are “6 Things Note 4 Does That iPhone 6 Can’t.”
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.